The Reading List

A few years back one of my business coaches challenged me to read more business books and articles. Honestly, I could think of nothing less exciting than that, equating these types of books with heavily academic, above-my-head language and style. However, it was a good challenge. One I thought about and initially did out of obligation versus want. Over time, instead of dreading the task, I now look forward to the chance to read business books (maybe I’m still weird…).

It’s the benefits that keep me going, but I realize we all face challenges when it comes to making time to read material that keeps us fresh in our field including:

· I don’t have enough time to read.

· I don’t like to read this kind of book.

· Don’t I ever get a break from work?

Here’s how I approached each of those scenarios.

First, I don’t have a lot of time to read. I read for about 15 minutes before bed and on planes. That’s about it. I made a deal with myself for each business book I read, I got to read a book for fun afterward. This alternating schedule allowed me to read business books and read for fun. We have time for what we make time for. I had to prioritize business reading to make it happen. I also had to reward myself with a book I could read for fun to keep myself motivated.

Second, sometimes these books just aren’t fun to read. Some are. Find the authors, books and styles you like to read and start there. I devour anything by Malcolm Gladwell and enjoy the easy nature of Patrick Lencioni books. The depth of Brene Brown is profound and moving. Find the books and authors you gravitate toward the start there.

The other thing I do when it’s not fun to read, I speed read. A friend taught me to read the summary page of the chapter (most business books have this) to learn what concepts are in that chapter. Then return to the front of the chapter, read the first couple of paragraphs, which give you the big picture and why of that chapter. From that point on, read the first sentence of each paragraph and skim the first couple of words of each line below. Pause and read only if you find the content interesting or confusing. It’s a little scary how much we can skip and get the concepts, but it’s a great time management technique.

Third, shift your focus to see the benefit you gain from reading for business rather than asking if you never get to walk away from work. This switch in mindset has definitely kept me motivated to keep reading for business. There have been a number of times I’ve referenced a book and the client’s ears have perked up as I referenced something their leadership team was also reading. At other points, I’ve been able to connect concepts between books and real-life situations and offered a solution that appeared really brilliant because I synthesized what they were going through with someone else’s wisdom. I wouldn’t have those connections without having read and learned from others. It’s this slight

mindset swap that allows me to remember I read this for a reason. And, don’t forget after reading that book, I rewarded myself with a book to read for fun.

Whatever your reason for reading, you’ll benefit from that experience. The picture above is a list of some of my favorite books, along with some books in my reading queue. Check them out if you haven’t, you’ll find there’s much to learn and enjoy!

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